MSP loves parties of all sorts, with all sorts. And did we ever party this month! We were honored to be asked to do something we rarely get to do - shoot a sweet 16! And it was kinda the mother of all incarnations of a sweet 16, guys. For Jackie. But who's Jackie, you ask? What was the big deal, she's only 16, you say? Ah, but let me set the scene, friends...
Jackie's mom, Wendy, has been a friend to MSP for many a year. When she called I understood the gravity of the event. In Latin American cultures (for those not in the know) this is an important time for a young lady - the quinceanera is a time honored tradition, and is typically accompanied by a lavish celebration, wardrobe, ceremony, religious services, THE WORKS. So, I was both touched and hydrating - I had tobasically prepare to shoot a wedding without a groom. Not a small deal. So, day of I gathered the necessary gear, extra fluids, tapped a good set of second hands (tip of the hat to Nicole, you did a fantastic job!) and set out to St. Anthony's in Long Beach.
A beautiful church never ceases to illicit the same response in me. As a lapsed Catholic I am still drawn to its stillness, the peace there, the echo of the footfalls. And I love the ceremony of mass to this day. This afternoon was no exception. I found joy capturing moments for this family as they celebrated their faith together. It filled my heart being there. We even got to take a bunch of family portraits in and around the whole sanctuary, which was fantastic. (I jokingly referred to this as the "Catholic coup". In photographic circles we are all well aware that there are a few things one does NOT do when shooting in a church, so when you get shoved out onto an altar behind the father and told to shoot, by God, you shoot. I think coup is appropriate?)
But when mass ends, the party begins, and did it ever! A classic car transported the birthday girl over to Skylinks Golf Course for a massive Hollywood-themed reception, complete with step and repeat, velvet ropes, photo booth, candy table, dance floor, bangin' dj, cocktails, and huge posters of classic film stars meant to be signed by the guests for Jackie's guest book (pretty clever, no?). Jackie's family was beyond gracious. I was able to talk to many of them throughout the course of the day, and it became very clear to me how this young woman came by her poise, grace and manners. Each was genuine and kind in their speech, and more than one thanked me for my service to the day. It was humbling.
By the end of the night, Nicole and I were exhausted, knew pretty much everyone, half hammered on Jameson, and couldn't stop smiling. By contrast, the family looked as though they were just getting started...we were not a little impressed. What an experience! To Wendy & Robert, we would like to offer our congratulations on having raised such an amazing young woman. She is a stellar person, and a fine example of what we hope our own children will be when they reach her age. You have taught her to carry herself with pride and comport herself with self respect and dignity and it shows. Tremendous work, mom and dad. To Jaqueline, we thank you for letting us shove lenses in your face for so many hours and still bringing that glorious smile every time we did. You are a shining star, beautiful girl. Please let that light continue to shine no matter what because it really is a beacon for every single person around you. Believe it.